How to know if the boat you are designing does not infringe with any patents

Discussion in 'Boat Design' started by Alex008080, Nov 17, 2022.

  1. Alex008080
    Joined: Nov 2022
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    Alex008080 New Member

    Hi all, I'm new to the marine world and I've always dreamed of designing and building my own boat one day. Since I started designing, I quickly noticed that many bow shapes were patent protected, like the Ulstein x-bow, and the axe bow. And now come the trouble, how do I design a vessel without infringing on patents. I've attached a picture of my design, and the concept that I found on internet which had influenced me. Thanks for reading through, any help will be very appreciated!
    Screenshot_20221117-011252_Chrome.jpg
     
  2. Andrew Kirk
    Joined: Jul 2021
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    Andrew Kirk Pedal boater.

    I don't see that a patent infringement is relevant if it's just for personal use.
     
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  3. bajansailor
    Joined: Oct 2007
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    bajansailor Marine Surveyor

    Welcome to the Forum Alex.
    Re the picture of your design, how big is the boat going to be when you build it, and what will the construction material be?
    What do you want to use it for?
    You need to establish your Statement of Requirements first - try to make it as detailed as possible, as to what you will expect this boat to be capable of doing for you.
    Once you have done this, then you can start designing.
     
  4. gonzo
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    gonzo Senior Member

  5. Alex008080
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    Alex008080 New Member

    For Canadian regulations, it's different, and for your point to apply, you have to make sure no one sees it.
     

    Attached Files:

  6. Alex008080
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    Alex008080 New Member

    Thanks for the info gonzo, if it's a utility patent, like the x-bow, it protects the functionality, as you can probably tell, my very rough design aim to work somewhat similar to the x-bow in terms of cutting through waves. Is that something that I can be sued for? And what about other designs in the vessel hull design protection program that I didn't know about, but used in the design, am I liable?
     
  7. Alex008080
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    Alex008080 New Member

    I am still working those out to some concrete numbers, now I'm trying to see how can I design a boat without being sued to be honest.
     
  8. gonzo
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    gonzo Senior Member

    Ultimately, a patent is worth as much as you can spend defending it. Even if your design does not infringe on the X bow, what would you do if they claim it does? What you need is a patent lawyer to examine your design and give you advice. The designs you mention fall under the broad category of bulbous bows. They have been around since the triremes. The design you show looks like a pontoon with a reverse bow. It think is does not infringe on anyone's patent. However, that is mainly because the design is not very good. Spending year and lots of money to build your own boat, and then find out the design is poor would be really disappointing. Try building a small boat designed by a reputable person first. It will at least give you an idea of what your skill level is. Also, you may find out that spending years to complete a project may be more than what you are willing to do.
     
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  9. messabout
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    messabout Senior Member

    Welcome to the forum Alex.
    Your caution about infringing on a patent is not something that you should worry about at this point. As Bajansailor advised, the first order of business, before designing a boat, is to construct a Statement of Requirements (SOR). Where and in what kind of sea state will the boat be used? What is the primary purpose of the boat? Fishing, sailing, racing, rowing, paddling, cargo hauling, a combat boat or ship, cruising....etc....? The SOR will lead you to certain design principals and features of the boat that satisfy, or attempt to satisfy, the design characteristics that are most appropriate to the intended function of the boat.

    There is much to learn about how and why floating objects behave as they do. A tremendous bunch of pretty smart people and many adventurous dreamers have been messing around with boat design for several thousand years. I encourage you to join them in the discovery of how things actually work......or not work.
     
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  10. bajansailor
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    bajansailor Marine Surveyor

    +1 re @messabout comments above.
    Alex, I think that you are overthinking this whole issue of patent infringement far too much.
    Even if you exactly copy an Ulstein axe bow for your boat, I very much doubt that Ulstein are going to be too bothered about it unless you set up a shipyard to build similar size vessels in direct competition against them.
    Especially if your boat is relatively small (ie a boat, not a ship).

    Please, just concentrate on these 'concrete numbers' first - you might well find later on that your bulbous (Ale)X bow is not needed. And even if you do absolutely need an (Ale)X bow on your boat, just say that it is a beer bow, and see how it works out. :)
     
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  11. portacruise
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    portacruise Senior Member

    Very good information by above posters! In the USA, I believe one way of protection is developing your invention under the umbrella of an LLC (limited liability corporation). That way, lawsuits can't come after your personal assets; if you are sued, the most you can lose is what's tied up in the corporation, which theoretically could be kept at a minimized level. Caveats, as I am not an attorney, and I don't know how it works in Canada. ( I couldn't read your screenshot, too fuzzy) By the way, a vetted and trustworthy marine engineer can probably tell you if you have something valuable, even after a brief consultation, which might be allowed legally, without jeopardizing the patent? That might save you years of time and effort getting involved in something that is not new, or meritorious. Also, being granted a patent doesn't guarantee that the design works to do what is claimed, as I understand it.
     
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  12. Ike
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    Ike Senior Member

    This is a question we used to deal with frequently at USCG HQ Office of Boating Safety. First off it is really hard to patent a boat design. This is because as Gonzo said, most hull shapes have been around for thousands of years. Bulbous bows and reverse bows (such as wave piercing) have been used and reused hundreds of times. sea sleds have been made since marine engines were invented, and the list goes on... etc. So I wouldn't worry about it much. what most patents in the boat design world are for, is some specific feature of a hull shape, or a design feature or some notable characteristic such as ventilated stepped hulls. Rarely for the entire hull or boat. Does you bow infringe. No. But have a patent lawyer check it out. Money spent on this will save you grief and money spent defending yourself later. Also check with the Canadian Office of Boating safety. Their web site is Office of Boating Safety https://tc.canada.ca/en/marine-transportation/marine-safety/office-boating-safety. Canada has much more stringent regulations for small craft than the US so know before you start building. And do an SOR before you start designing.

    Construction standards for Small Boats in Canada are found at Construction Standards for Small Vessels (2010) - TP 1332 E https://tc.canada.ca/en/marine-transportation/marine-safety/construction-standards-small-vessels-2010-tp-1332-e
     
  13. BobBill
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    BobBill Senior Member

    +1, who cares if not commercial.
     
  14. clmanges
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    clmanges Senior Member

    If this helps, patents (at least to my understanding) only cover an item to the precise description given, so if your bow has, say, a slightly different angle or maybe some difference in its structural details, the patent doesn't cover it.
     

  15. gonzo
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    gonzo Senior Member

    Not necessarily. The patent may not protect the "looks" of the bow, but the technology that resulted in that shape. That means that any other shape derived from the technology is also protected.
     
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